Microbiological safety of ready‐to‐eat foods in low‐ and middle‐income countries: a comprehensive 10‐year (2009 to 2018) review
Makinde, Oluwadamilola M.
Adeleke, Rasheed A.
Ayeni, Kolawole I.
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Ready‐to‐eat foods (RTEs) are foods consumed without any further processing. They are widely consumed as choice meals especially by school‐aged children and the fast‐paced working class in most low‐ and middle‐income countries (LMICs), where they contribute substantially to the dietary intake. Depending on the type of processing and packaging material, RTEs could be industrially or traditionally processed. Typically, RTE vendors are of low literacy level, as such, they lack knowledge about good hygiene and food handling practices. In addition, RTEs are often vended in outdoor environments such that they are exposed to several contaminants of microbial origin. Depending on the quantity and type of food contaminant, consumption of contaminated RTEs may result in foodborne diseases and several other adverse health effects in humans. This could constitute major hurdles to growth and development in LMICs. Therefore, this review focuses on providing comprehensive and recent occurrence and impact data on the frequently encountered contaminants of microbial origin published in LMICs within the last decade (2009 to 2018). We have also suggested viable food safety solutions for preventing and controlling the food contamination and promoting consumer health